Ruth Davidson, former leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, recently presented the documentary ‘Football’s Gambling Addiction,’ on Channel 4.
The programme saw the politician lead an investigation into football’s ‘intertwined relationship with betting and gambling operators’.
Describing the gambling industry as a ‘parasite taking over its host’, the former minister and journalist also disclosed her views on TalkRADIO and Good Morning Britain, backing an overhaul of the UK’s betting and gaming legislation.
Speaking to TalkRADIO, Davidson described the issue of gambling as ‘massive’, and highlighted its ‘huge’ impact on the football industry, whilst expressing her belief that betting advertisements in sports have ‘reached saturation point.
“The issue of gambling is massive, and the government has promised that it will bring in a white paper of a bill before the end of this year,” she detailed. “We’ve just looked at one specific part, which is the changes with football, which has been huge.
“A lot of this can be traced back to the Gambling Act of 2005, which allowed gambling advertising on TV for the first time, and allowed celebrities to do endorsements. What we’ve seen in that period is a real proliferation, not just shirt sponsorship but sponsorship on ad boards around the ground, advertising of all the broadcasts.
The change in online gambling has enabled people to gamble from morning to night on multiple leagues around the world with multiple different bets, and it really has reached saturation point, and that has consequences.”
Separately, speaking to Good Morning Britain, Davidson noted that she is ‘not a prohibitionist,’ and enjoys betting on the Grand National or occasionally buying a scratchcard.
“I fully understand that thousands or millions of people enjoy gambling as a leisure pursuit, but there are issues there. The industry won’t fix them, the football clubs won’t fix them, and the government needs to step in.
She continued: “Part of this film is to let ministers hear voices that they might not otherwise hear when they’re doing all the work that happens before you produce a bill.”
When quizzed by the hosts whether the gambling industry was ‘shameless’ in its tactics, she responded: “For legal reasons I should say that they are operating within the law.
“Nobody is suggesting that they are doing anything that is illegal in this country. However, I think that is one of the reasons why the law needs to change.”